Everyones a Friggin Critic!

Photo by Gustavo Arellano Libertad!!/Toxic Shock Syndrome/Mail-Order Brides/$3 Puta/Augie
Youth Drop-In Center, Garden Grove
Thursday, Aug. 15

We Weekly music fiends love Garden Grove's Youth Drop-In Center for (amongst other reasons) their SoapboXX Sessions, which allows girls to hone their music in a supportive environment free of boorish bro-types. About once a month, the Center compiles a few of these artists to display their talents, as was the case last Thursday. Opening was the latest group to emerge from la naranja's Chicano punk scene: Libertad!! This was their debut, and it showed. Lead singer Yvette Jimnez moved as much as an oil rig, while bass boy Rogelio Nicanor bounced too much for his own good. Nevertheless, flashes of poppy brilliance (“Cumbia,” an energetic instrumental along the lines of “Whittier Blvd.,” particularly impressed) bubbled through the inexperience. With more gigs, they're sure to shine. Next was Toxic Shock

Mail-Order Brides
Photo by Gustavo Arellano
Syndrome, who announced this would be their farewell—the drummer was returning to San Jose. It's a pity because their no-frills guitar-and-drums combo could knock the red out of the White Stripes. Gals, we hardly knew ye. Afterward came Mail Order Brides, a two-males-and-a-female outfit whose lead singer's cutesy-poo voice ratcheted up their joyous punk. This didn't annoy, but constant inside-baseball dedications to audience members did (advice: if you croon for “the most perverted girl I know,” fill us in on the perversion). But they recuperated with energetic covers of Kiss, Poison and the Queers. The highlight of $3 Puta's set was keyboardist Rudy Scutter announcing he had written a new song (“Everyone's a Critic”) just for Weekly music editor Rich Kane. Seems Kane “writes reviews with his penis” because he wasn't impressed last time $3 Puta played, describing their music as “tinny keyboard squonks pushed up against mangled guitar groaning” (Hello Cleveland! Jun. 28). Sorry, boss: Scutter's composition was a hilariously go-go send-up of us wussy music critics. The alt.-pop beauty of recent Saddleback High School graduates Augie closed. Especially special was lead singer Cathy Phan, whose timid, nervous personality fueled her gripping lyrics and voice la Aterciopelados' Andrea Echeverri. The three ladies expertly employed their foot pedals, switching from chiming strums to harsh riffs with little effort to suit the needs of each tune. Best was “Waltz Song,” a tender, wistful ballad that sounds like something Johann Straus Jr. would've composed if he wore Converse and black-rimmed glasses. (Gustavo Arellano)

Aimee Mann/John Doe Thing
House of Blues, Anaheim
Tuesday, Aug. 13

We weren't thrilled going to the House of Blues for Aimee Mann last week—it is Disney territory after all—and we absolutely hate the House of Blues in LA, which only suits one if you're about 8 feet tall and can actually see the stage. But thank fucking god we held out. John Doe swaggered onstage with only an upright bassist and his own guitar. He didn't bother introducing himself—he didn't need to. The sea of neatly sculpted retards below simply yawned and stared, visibly unimpressed—as if Doe cared. And he rocked, of course, rolling out some blisteringly good new folk-abilly material, an acoustic “White Girl,” and a knock-down-drag-out version of “Burning House of Love.” He blasted Mickey Mouse, which admittedly doesn't take a genius, but when he started in on patriotism and assholes who wear American flag T-shirts? Well, above the silently stupid crowd we could be heard cackling like those two old men in the Muppets balcony. And then Jesus did in fact return to Earth as a lanky girl named Aimee Mann, plucking out a rich and perfectly constructed set list of new material and old classics. The girl was mesmerizing. Even the Hooters crowd was engaged, and we spied several unlikely candidates actually mouthing all the words. Aside from her charismatically demure demeanor and bassy vocal timbre, it's Mann's sheer power as a songwriter that turns us into drooling idiots. Her melancholy was contagious; she took our fevered brains down 20 notches, using her layers of ambient guitar to spin us into the space inside her head. We were Aimee Mann that night. The girl was our drug, and we hopped up. And what made us want to touch her most of all was that she was completely clueless about how fucking awesome she is. Kick yourself in the ass for not seeing her. And don't miss your next chance, even if it means swallowing a few mouthfuls from a polluted gene pool. (Stacy Davies)

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